Conductor, Music Director, and Principal Conductor of the PPO
May 5, 1961 – March 20, 2022
Maestro Barbieri was Musical Director and Principal Conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra from 1996 to 2004. He was the first foreign conductor who held the post for two consecutive terms, bringing the national orchestra to greater heights and leading it into much acclaimed Asian and European tours.
Born on May 5, 1961 in Bergamo, Italy, Mr. Barbieri studied at the Guiseppe Verdi Conservatory of Milan, the Music Academy of Pescara, and the Konservatorium fur Musik in Vienna.
In 1997, Barbieri made his Asian debut as opera conductor with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, followed by Don Giovanni (1999), and Il Trovatore in Singapore (2001).
As PPO Music Director, he organized and conducted the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra on its first European Concert Tour from October 19 to November 2, 2001. Seventy (70) Musicians plus the Major Sponsors Ambassador Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr. and Ms. Nedy Tantoco, CCP Chairman Mr. Baltazar Endriga, and eight production staff including two tons of musical instruments left on October 19, 2001, and performed in the music capital of Madrid, Spain and several cities in Spain like Gijon, Pontevedra, Santiago de Compostela, Burgos, Miranda de Ebro; Klagenfurt, Austria; and Prague, Czech Republic.
He conducted the Pundaquit Virtuosi’s European tour in June/July 2019 organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. Maestro said “he was so glad and proud to be their musical conductor! It would take too much time to describe the astonishing successes we had in such cities as Bruxelles, Berlin, Frankfurt, Wien, Madrid, Barcelona, Oporto, Paris, Milan and Rome (among others!) where the tour successfully ended by the very famous “Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church” (Gedaechtnis Kirche) located in the heart of Berlin!” He was set to be the Resident Conductor of Pundaquit beginning 2020 if not for the pandemic.
Maestro Barbieri died due to aneurysm in the brain at the Pope John XX111 Hospital in Bergamo, Italy on March 20, 2022 at the age of 60.
“It’s a sad day for CCP to hear the passing of its former Conductor, Ruggero Barbieri,” says CCP president Arsenio J. Lizaso. “Though I wasn’t president yet when he joined the PPO,” he recalls, “I was fortunate to have met him during one of Ms. Zeny Tantoco’s Christmas Concerts at the Pen. He was a talented conductor, very energetic and a nice fellow. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maestro and his family.”
Barbieri is survived by his 21-year-old son Piolo and 2 sisters Daniela and Federica.
From the years 2003 until 2019, he would come annually to the Philippines to be the Conductor of the PPO during the Christmas Concert at the Pen. It was an occasion many Filipinos look forward to and Maestro Barbieri always played to a full and enthusiastic audience. He was scheduled to return this year to conduct the Christmas concert anew.
The PPO orchestra director Eugene Delos Santos shares his thoughts on Barbieri. “It is with deep sadness for the PPO to have received the news of the passing of our former music director and principal conductor, Maestro Ruggero Barbieri yesterday, March 21, 2022,” he says. “As music director from 1996 to 2004, he was an amazing and generous mentor who tirelessly contributed to the training and musical growth of the PPO. We feel so lucky that we got to know and learned from him during his term as our principal conductor. He will surely be missed.”